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Re: Ammonia vs. Nitrates

> This inspires a question or two. Would it be wise to reduce the amount
>  of biological filtration in my 125 gallon tank (lava rock, ceramic
>  rings) to free up more ammonia for my plants? 

I don't know how you could reduce biological filtration long-term, nor why 
you would want to do it.  Nitrifying bacteria will grow everywhere in the 
tank, and will reach quantities capable of handling whatever ammonia load is 
present.  Removing lava rock, ceramic rings, etc., would cause a temporary 
ammonia spike, but in less than a week bacteria would catch up by growing on 
other available surfaces.  In other words, your plan is not a long-term 
solution.  Are there fish in the tank?  Deliberately triggering an ammonia 
spike would be very stressful to them. Some fish (SAE's for example) simply 
cannot tolerate ammonia spikes at all.

>  My nitrate stays at around
>  20ppm regardless of plant growth, CO2 saturation, etc. 

REGARDLESS of plant growth??  What nitrate test kit are you using?  Some test 
strips (Jungle, for example) will never read much below 20 ppm.  If you test 
with a liquid test kit (Seachem, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Lamotte), you may 
discover that your nitrates are actually at zero.  

>  Also I have one  HOT w/2 BWs (eliminate BWs?). 

If you want to preserve your CO2 and not dissipate it into the air, ditch the 

> When I had excess CO2 some fish would gasp at the BW area before they died. 

At what CO2 level did this occur?  

>  Also, once a fish suffers from CO2
>  poisoning(?) can it be saved? I reduced CO2 and still lost a few fish.
>  Only a few. The majority were not fazed by it. 

Depends on where you catch the fish in its death spiral.  If it's just 
beginning to show stress, you can oxygenate the water and save it.  If you 
wait until it's gasping its last, your chances of reviving the fish dwindle 
rapidly.  Frankly, you would have to add a heck of a lot of CO2 to kill fish 
with a biowheel on the tank.  Again, do you know at what levels your CO2 was 
running when these fish deaths occurred?